Match Analysis

Chepauk roars as Dhonimania caps CSK's perfect night

The defending champions made it three wins in three at home, and they did it in style

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
"I hope he doesn't come out to bat."
Dwayne Bravo was pushing his luck. Not long after he made this dirty little secret of his public, the IPL's biggest power hitter was making his way out to the middle.
Andre Russell knows he is chaos condensed into skin, bone and muscle. And he entered Chepauk in a manner befitting it, flat out charging to the crease, slowing down only for a little stretch where he bounced on one leg while lifting the other up to his waist. Once he was at the crease, he looked around, as if it mattered to him where the fielders were, as if he hasn't been clearing them all his life. Six hundred (!) and seventy eight sixes was staring down at Chennai Super Kings.
Bravo was at the boundary line now. Pacing. He always does this in the death overs. It's almost as if he has withdrawal, having dominated that stage of play for virtually his whole career. All of that experience is why he was brought into the CSK coaching set-up and given free reign. This team splits up during its training sessions and the bowlers become Bravo's responsibility entirely.
The field that was set to Russell was intriguing. Tushar Deshpande had his mid-off up. And as soon as he bowled his first ball it became clear why. It was banged in, at top speed, cramping the Kolkata Knight Rider for room. Exactly the kind of situation that could result in a top-edge. Mid-off was a catching fielder.
In the next over, the 18th, Mustafizur Rahman ran in from over the wicket with three men on the off side fence. He also seemed to deliver from as wide of the crease as he could. And finally, he never put pace on. Everything was the offcutter. So even though he was going full - which was the most hittable length on this pitch - he was making it work for him.
CSK had weaponised the angle across the right-hander. They denied him the easiest access to sixes. They denied him the entire leg side. Mustafizur vs Russell was seven balls: two plays and misses, one bottom edge, one catch drop, one wide, one single, one four and all pressure.
Now it was Deshpande's turn to keep at it. But he did better than that. He too tried to slant the ball across Russell by moving around the wicket. Bravo used to do this all the time in the death, packing the offside and asking his opponents to drag him to leg knowing the risks that came with it.
Russell fell for 10 off 10, caught at long-on. Even his power wasn't enough when CSK had stacked so many things against him. As soon as it happened, Bravo punched the air and Deshpande pointed to him before breaking into the old Gangnam style dance. Well, the hands part of it anyway.
The Chepauk pitch played a big role in all of this. It was the same one that was used for the season opener last month. Back then it had a fair bit of pace and bounce. Now it seemed to have lost both to the extent that even a brand new ball was sneaking under Sunil Narine's bat.
Ravindra Jadeja is tailor made for this situation. He knew all he had to do was not bowl full; not bypass the natural variation that was on offer. Nineteen of his 24 deliveries were on a length or, like the one that took Narine out, just short of it. That ball held in the surface and made the batter lose his shape so badly his bottom hand came off. It was beautiful, the simplicity, the precision and the discipline.
Jadeja knew that in conditions like these, where there was low bounce, he could limit scoring options just by hitting a hard length and targeting the stumps. Plus, with him bowling at almost 100 kph, KKR never had time to get a shot away. They tried. Backing off and bringing out the horizontal bats but they could barely breach the infield. KKR struck only one boundary off him. He took three wickets off them.
"Whenever I play in Chennai, I always feel good," Jadeja said as he collected the Player-of-the-Match award, "Whenever I play on this kind of track, I always enjoy my bowling."
There was a very real chance, at the end of the night, that he'd get to seal the win that he'd set up for his team. He was in full kit. He'd picked up the bat. He was preparing to come out. Then all of a sudden he made a giant U-turn and returned to his seat. Close-ups of the whole thing revealed that it was all an elaborate prank.
"Yeah, a little while earlier [MS Dhoni] had spoken to Jaddu bhai that you go out, but I'll go to bat, and I overheard that" Deshpande told the IPL website.
"He just gave the crowd a glimpse of himself," Jadeja added, "So they would get their money's worth for their tickets."
Thala walked out to Hukum from the Rajinikanth movie Jailer. At first the song was totally drowned out. Russell, who was fielding on the boundary, had to shut his ears. The crowd weren't just loud. They were thunderous. Eventually, though, they began to vibe with the music. And belt out the lyrics. Ivan peare thooka naalu pearu [a few may tarnish his name] Pattatha parikka nooru peru [Hundreds try to take his title away] Kutti chevatha yetti paatha [But if you look over behind that little wall] Usura kodukka kodi peru [He has crores willing to give their life for him]. There was a little extra behind that last line.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo